Wrestling Observer Flashback–08.14.89

It’s the day after Wrestlemania, but it’s the buildup to Summerslam back in 1989.

– In the big news of the week, Antonio Inoki has won election in the Japanese House of Councilors, which is apparently the equivalent to the US House of Representatives.  As a Canadian, that doesn’t help me understand in the least, but good for him!  Although he previously announced his retirement, it’s expected that Inoki will keep wrestling as a special attraction, kind of a “wrestling senator” deal.

– Ricky Steamboat’s departure from the NWA was spun as less of a money issue by the promotion and more of a “he had a foot injury and we decided to part ways” issue.  As Dave notes, at least the company said something on TV, whereas the WWF would just pretend he never existed.  As for Steamboat, he’s claiming that the “difference of $10000” is actually $50,000, which Herd wanted to cut off his yearly deal outright.  He’s not planning on going to the WWF any time soon, however.  Dave again notes that Herd is under a lot of pressure to cut costs, and frankly Steamboat wasn’t any kind of a draw as champion and might not even be worth that kind of money.

– You know who IS worth the money?  Zeus.  The angle with Hogan got over big and apparently he might not be that much of a disaster when he gets into the ring.  However, should they do the threatened singles match on PPV with Hogan, it’s likely that they’ll tape it in advance and then edit the shit out of it afterwards if need be.

– The Bobby Heenan Show actually drew a whopping good rating this past week, possibly enough to save the show.

– Owen Hart came back to Stampede and drew some big houses against Dynamite Kid, but he’s going back to Japan soon and then they’re back in the same rocky situation again. They’re talking about doing a live special on TSN in the winter, but that won’t happen.

– Down in Memphis, one of the feature feuds is Freddy (Tommy Gilbert dressed as Freddy Kruger) taking on the Zombie, who is wheeled out in a coffin and is terrible.  The funny part?  The Zombie, who is doing a gimmick kind of like the Undertaker, is managed by a guy named “The Undertaker”!  Also, Bam Bam Bigelow is becoming a really big draw there, no-selling everything as a monster heel and boosting crowds in the matches against Lawler.

– The World Class promotion officially ended on the weekend, as Eric Embry beat PY Chu Hi in a cage match and tore down the World Class banners around the Sportatorium afterwards, so from now on it’s USWA.  Later, Dave goes on a whole rant about trying to make sense of pro wrestling, wondering why Jerry Lawler’s strap gives him superpowers and why he doesn’t just pull down the strap at the BEGINNING of the match?

– Verne Gagne has cleared a few markets for his new “Team Challenge Series” idea, but overall it’s not doing as well as they’d hoped.  That’s the understatement of the century.

– Over in Japan, Baba did a call-in show and a fan asked if the British Bulldogs splitting up would affect their future as a tag team, and Baba accused Gong Magazine of making the story up.  Baba was so mad about it that the magazine actually had to produce a photo of them fighting each other in Stampede to prove they weren’t lying about it!

– Jushin Riger (Liger) is getting a huge push as Junior champion in New Japan, defending against all kinds of opponents and having great matches with everyone.  They’re bringing Owen Hart in for him and probably more people.

– Atsushi Onita announced the formation of Frontier Martial Arts Wrestling (FMW), and it’ll mainly focus on wrestler v. karate fighter matches.  Plus midgets.  So you know, right up my alley.

– In Mexico, Dave is incredulous that someone named El Satanico is turning babyface.

– Brad Rheingans, half of the AWA tag champions, quit the sinking ship and now Ken Patera is going to rotate partners in defenses against the Destruction Crew.

– Florida continues to flounder, drawing 100 people a show, and Gordon Solie has given up his announcing job despite still owning 13% of the promotion.

– Jeff Jarrett and Dutch Mantell did a wacky experimental match at the Wichita State campus this week, wrestling while the college’s Percussion Ensemble provided backing music for the match that changed with the flow of the match.

– Ric Flair has officially taken over as booker for the NWA.  There’s still technically a committee as well, but the buck stops with Flair.

– Wrestling logic strikes again, as the TV title is held up between Sting and Muta, but they’re competing in “Dragon Shi” matches to determine the champion. The only way you can win such a match is by countout, but the title can’t change hands on a countout, so Dave wonders how exactly this is supposed to settle the title situation?

– Jim Herd did an interview and denied that there was any pressure on him to keep costs down and that had nothing to do with Steamboat leaving.  LIAR.  Later on he would change his tune 180 degrees.

– Tommy Rich is taking Steamboat’s place against Lex Luger, which befuddles Dave a bit.

– The Steiners are doing an angle on TV where Scott beats jobbers by himself while Rick sits in the stands eating M&Ms with his new girlfriend, Robin Green.

– Tom Zenk is set to debut at the next Clash as “Mr. Z”.

– The fans are still nearing riot-levels for the Warrior-Andre ripoff main events, but the WWF is only responding by moving them earlier in the show,despite still billing the match as the main event.  See, Vince feels that it’s the FANS who are wrong and they as a company can get away with anything they want.  Good thing they’re much more enlightened now.

– The WWF is under the impression that Starrcade will be Flair v. Luger, which should do a big buyrate, so they’re putting the Hogan v. Zeus PPV in December to show again that they’re not about hurting the other guy.

– The marathon matches continue to draw rave reviews, although the supposed 60 minute time limit only ends up being 45.  Dave thinks that Patterson actually got the idea from Roy Shires.

– In the letters section, Dave clarifies that the Brainbusters were technically under contract to Crockett, but when the company reneged on the “balloon payment” at the end of their term, that was breach of contract and they became free agents.  As opposed to the WWF, where guys have to give 13 weeks notice and get jobbed out of their minds during that time.

And then pages and pages of letters to end the newsletter this week, until I feel like I’m watching a seven hour Wrestlemania with a HHH-Reigns main event that goes 27 minutes.  Or at least that’s what I’m guessing will happen tomorrow, since I’m totally writing this on Saturday morning.